President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn has disclosed that his now-defunct firm, the Flynn Intel Group, did work following the presidential election that may have benefitted the Turkish government. Flynn earned $530,000 (£435,712) last autumn, documents newly filed with the Justice Department reveal.
Between August and mid-November, the Flynn Intel Group received funds from Inovo BV, a privately owned consulting firm in the Netherlands run by Turkish businessman Kamil Alptekin, The Hill reports.
Flynn's consulting firm then sub-contracted with a company called SGR LLC Government Relations and Lobbying for $40,000. This company reportedly contacted Tim Griffin and Miles Taylor, a staffer on the House Homeland Security Committee, regarding an anti-government Turkish cleric. The Hill reports SGR LLC also reached out to reporters and media outlets.
Documents filed by Flynn on Wednesday (8 March) show Flynn Intel Group also paid others for "consultancy fees", "administrative support", videography and editing services. Flynn was a military adviser for Trump's campaign at the time.
According to Politico, the new documents not only confirm Flynn lobbied for Inovo BV but also show that members of Flynn's firm secretly met with Turkish foreign and energy ministers in New York less than two months before election day.
Flynn's firm was tasked with focusing on Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania. Gülen has been accused by the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being the mastermind behind the failed coup against the president last summer. Flynn wrote an op-ed in The Hill on Election Day calling for the US to deport Gülen.
The Flynn Intel Group first disclosed it was lobbying for Inovo in September but did not register with the Justice Department, believing that the congressional disclosure was enough.
"Nevertheless, because of the subject matter of Flynn Intel Group's work for Inovo, which focused on Mr Fethullah Gülen, whose extradition is sought by the Government of Turkey, the engagement would be construed to have principally benefitted the Republic of Turkey," Robert Kelner, a lawyer for Flynn's firm, wrote in a letter to the Justice Department.
"To eliminate any potential doubt, the Flynn Intel Group therefore is electing to file a registration under FARA, in lieu of its prior LDA registration."
'Abundance of caution'
Price Floyd, a spokesman for Flynn, told Politico that the former national security adviser decided to retroactively register with the Justice Department "out of an abundance of caution". Flynn's firm also maintain that his op-ed was not tied to the firm's work for Inovo.
"The op-ed was not written or published at the request of, or under the direction or control of, Inovo, the Republic of Turkey, or any other party," Flynn Intel Group reported in the filing. "No compensation was received for the publication of the op-ed."
Alptekin told Politico in November that the op-ed had not been written for him. Inovo BV also denied there was any payment from Turkey or any other foreign government, The Hill reports. "Inovo has represented, through its counsel, that no part of the fees paid to Flynn Intel Group by Inovo was provided by any foreign government," the disclosure forms state.
Flynn was fired from Trump's national security team in February over calls he made to the Russian ambassador to the US during the transition, and his subsequent failure to disclose those calls.